Nagpur: The Maharashtra government will study laws on “love jihad” framed by other states and take an appropriate decision, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said. Talking to reporters in the Maharashtra legislature complex in Nagpur on Tuesday, Mr Fadnavis said there was a “feeling” in the House regarding the Shraddha Walkar case that instances of “love jihad” were seen at a large scale in the state.
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“Love jihad” is a term often used by right-wing activists to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage.
“We have assured (the House) that different states have laws on love jihad and we will study them. Based on it, our government will take an appropriate decision so that no woman or girl suffers by any conspiracy,” said Mr Fadnavis, who holds the Home portfolio.
In the Assembly, he said there is a demand for a tough law on “love jihad”.
The state government is not opposed to inter-faith marriages, Mr Fadnavis said.
“But it has been realised over time that there is a design as part of a conspiracy. In some districts such marriages are taking place in big numbers,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs Atul Bhatkhalkar and Ashish Shelar raised in the Lower House the issue of killing of Shraddha Walkar.
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Speaking on Walkar withdrawing a complaint of harassment she had filed against her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala with Vasai police in November 2020, Bhatkhalkar said, “Was there political pressure on the police not to act when they received the complaint?” “When this happened, during that time, (Amravati pharmacist Umesh) Kolhe was killed and the Tablighi Jamaat’s name cropped up in the charge sheet today,” he said.
Legislator Shelar also raised the same issue.
Poonawala allegedly killed Walkar in May this year in their Delhi flat. He allegedly chopped her body into multiple pieces and disposed of them over several weeks before he was arrested by the Delhi Police last month.
Fadnavis said the inter-faith committee, headed by a minister, will track and maintain records of inter-faith marriages, married couples, and also their families.
“Shraddha Walkar’s father said we didn’t understand where to go and we could have saved her had someone facilitated a conversation with her. People do not know where to go in such a situation and the panel is (there) for facilitation,” he had told the House.
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Speaking to reporters in the state legislature complex, Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi said Walkar’s case is not a “love jihad” issue as it is being painted now.
“Rather, it was a social subject and of live-in relationship,” he added.
“Anyone who is an adult can decide to live the way he/she wants. People are being misled by terming that incident as love jihad,” he said.
Azmi alleged the interfaith marriage inspection committee is purposely formed to divide Hindus and Muslims.